Declan Burke, that wily evil genius over at Crime Always Pays, threw me a scrap from his table earlier today and posted a link to CSNI on his latest entry. So I thought I should post a new article, lest new visitors think I’ve abandoned this project already. After minimal thought, I figured I’d share some things I learned at a literary discussion held at the Linenhall Library back in January. A little late to be writing about it now, I know, but I didn’t have this blog back then, did I?
Anyway, this was a discussion on crime fiction featuring guest speakers Jane Gregory (Gregory and Company Authors’ Agents) and Maria Rejt (Publishing Director of Macmillan, Pan, Picador and Macmillan New Writing). They’re responsible for the success of Minette Walters and Mo Hayder among many others.
The prestigious guest speakers offered the gathered wannabe writers advice on how to snag an agent and/or publishing deal. This mostly boiled down to advising the writer to read the submission guidelines set out by a publisher and sticking to them. Almost every talk aimed at new writers I’ve attended starts with this piece of advice, so I’d say it’s pretty important.
They discussed the importance of reading the new stuff out there. And you know, I’m all for that. And during that segment, Brian McGilloway got a mention. The Derry man impressed them so much they invited him to the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival.
I enjoyed their industry stories, which included how much Minette Walters was paid for her first novel and how she never forgave Maria Rejt for the offer, and how it pained Colin Dexter to lose two superfluous paragraphs in one of his Morse mysteries which described a flock of pigeons fluttering about. It was nice to see a human and humorous side to the publishing world.
Here’s one of the points of discussion that I remember most. They talked about the “asexualisation” of crime writers. Apparently it’s a fact that 80% of crime novels are bought by women. And although that 80% are more likely to give a male author a chance than the 20% of us barbaric males are to give female writers a chance, female writers are more likely to enjoy success in the genre than their male counterparts. And so, a lot of male writers are choosing to go with non-gender identifying initials. Examples include, KT McCafferty, CJ Sansom and most recently DB Shan. Interesting, n’est pas?
Okay. These charming ladies know their stuff, so I’ll accept that statistic. But something doesn’t quite tally. These last few weeks I’ve been trawling the internet in search of lady Northern Irish crime writers to add to my list of links. I can’t find any! None. Are they out there? If so, I apologise for my deficient googling skills and will appreciate correction from any source. But if not, I guess we will have to groom one of these chick-lit dudettes and convince them to up the bodycount in their work.
Who’s with me?